LOS ANGELES — Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling repeatedly disparaged Magic Johnson’s HIV-positive status in an interview that aired Monday, saying he was not a fit role model for children and dismissing his work in business and charity.
The interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper was meant to be a mea culpa in Sterling’s first public comments since racist recordings emerged last month and earned him a lifetime NBA ban, but when the subject turned to Johnson, who was mentioned in the recordings, Sterling is anything but apologetic.
“He’s got AIDS!” Sterling said loudly at one point, cutting off Cooper as the interviewer attempted to cite Johnson’s accomplishments after Sterling asked, “What has he done, big Magic Johnson, what has he done?”
Sterling changed course briefly during the interview to call Johnson “a good person,” but resumed his criticism.
“He acts so holy,” Sterling said. “He made love to every girl in every city in America, and he had AIDS, and when he had those AIDS, I went to my synagogue and I prayed for him, I hope he could live and be well. I didn’t criticize him. I could have. Is he an example for children?”
Cooper corrected Sterling, explaining that Johnson was HIV-positive but did not have “full-blown AIDS.”
Sterling briefly adjusted his language but not his tone.
“What kind of a guy goes to every city, has sex with every girl, then he catches HIV. Is that someone we want to respect, and tell our kids about?” Sterling said. “I think he should be ashamed of himself.”
Johnson, who is scheduled to appear on Cooper’s show to reply on Tuesday, wrote on his Twitter account that “I’d rather be talking about these great NBA Playoffs than Donald Sterling’s interview.”
Johnson later Tweeted, “After this week, no more Sterling talk.”
The comments earned Sterling a quick rebuke from NBA commissioner Adam Silver, who handed down a lifetime ban and $2.5 million fine against Sterling last month.
“I just read a transcript of Donald Sterling’s interview with Anderson Cooper and while Magic Johnson doesn’t need me to, I feel compelled on behalf of the NBA family to apologize to him that he continues to be dragged into this situation and be degraded by such a malicious and personal attack,” Silver said. “The NBA Board of Governors is continuing with its process to remove Mr. Sterling as expeditiously as possible.”
Just a day earlier, Johnson and the commissioner sat together at the Clippers playoff game against the Oklahoma City Thunder, though Johnson had Tweeted that he would never again attend a Clippers game while Sterling was owner.